Monday, February 11, 2013

Looking Back (Deauville Footprints)

Had some decent travel run good on Sunday with my shuttle to Paris and both flights sticking to schedule. Was great reuniting with Vera at the airport and getting home for a full night’s sleep. Slept a little late, in fact, and after taking care of various post-trip business I’ve now let most of the day get away from me. But I did want to share one last thought about the end of the EPT Deauville Main Event and the experience of spending the week in France.

Now that I’m home, I’m catching up a little with the commentary regarding Super Bowl XLVII. I mentioned last week I was able to watch most of the game in my hotel room, but I didn’t really have time in the following days to see what people were saying about the game.

Been thinking further about the whole crazy shift in momentum that happened pre- and post-blackout in the game. Remember how Baltimore was up 28-6 early in the third quarter when the power went out, then from that point forward the 49ers outscored the Ravens 25-6 to make the final score 34-31 with the Ravens prevailing.

Indeed, if not for some clock mismanagement and weird play calls at the end of that late-game drive by San Francisco, the Niners really should have won the game, which would have led to years and years of talk about the power outage having unfairly stemmed the Ravens’ momentum and thus affected the outcome. But Baltimore won, so that angle will not be pursued.

I was thinking today how the final table went in the PokerStars.fr EPT Deauville Main Event and how the end of the tournament kind of resembled the Super Bowl in some respects.

During the next-to-last day of play, the Frenchman Remi Castaignon built an enormous lead by knocking out several players on the way to the final table. He began the last day with 9.9 million chips when the next-closest player (Walid Bou Habib of Lebanon) had but 3.835 million. Thus did play begin on Saturday with an assumption that Castaignon would very likely at least remain ahead for most of the day, and perhaps might just gobble up all the short stacks and cruise to the win.

It was a little like the feeling after the Ravens returned the second-half kickoff to go ahead 28-6 insofar as the imbalance was now so great that it would take something very, very strange for the leader (i.e., Baltimore or Castaignon) not to remain in an advantageous position for much if not all of the remainder of the contest.

In the Super Bowl, the lights went out, interrupting the game for 34 minutes, and when play resumed it was as though the Ravens and 49ers had switched uniforms. For anyone looking for proof that momentum matters in team sports, that game has provided some hard-to-refute evidence.

The lights didn’t go out Deauville, but something strange did happen at the start of that final table. During the first orbit, Castaignon showed he wanted to get involved right away and use his big stack to pressure others, but got himself into a big mess early in a hand versus the young German, Enrico Rudelitz. Heck he probably felt like someone had pulled the plug on him, the way that hand went.

After calling a raise from late position, Castaignon watched Rudelitz reraise from the blinds and called again. Then he called c-bets by Rudelitz on the flop and turn before the German pushed all in on the river with the board showing Qc6d3sTs4d.

The pot had bloated to 6 million chips by then, and after tanking for more than five minutes Castaignon called and saw his opponent flip over Q-Q for top set. We were all then fairly amazed to see Castaignon’s hand -- 5-5. He’d made a “hero call” (as they say), and while one could kinda-sorta see how he’d talked himself into it (after the fact, anyway), it still seemed like a major, momentum-shifting misstep.

Suddenly Castaignon was no longer in the lead, but like Baltimore he’d recover and ultimately played a solid endgame to win anyway. Thus, as with the Super Bowl, the story of the 2013 EPT Deauville Main Event won’t really linger over one surprising moment, in this case a first-orbit hand at the final table in which Castaignon surprisingly lost nearly half of his dominating stack.

As I was saying in those brief bursts throughout the week, it was a great experience going back to France and getting to experience a little bit of the culture again, plus a lot of fun, rewarding collaboration with all of the other media folks who were there. As has been the case at the WSOP and these other tournies over the years, I’m grateful to have been part of the effort to share with the poker world what happened at Deauville over the last week, and to have contributed to the chronicling of it all.

Speaking of leaving one’s mark, I’ll share one last funny nouvelle from the week.

I mentioned how a highlight was finally getting to meet in person my longtime friend and colleague Matthew Pitt, a.k.a. “@YorkyPuds” or “Yorkshire Pud.” One morning the Pudster and I were making the short walk from the hotel to the casino, engaged and distracted by whatever conversation we were having.

Suddenly we both looked up and realized the last couple of steps on the sidewalk had been qualitatively different from the previous ones. “Seemed kind of soft,” said Matt, and we looked back to see one newly paved square of sidewalk interrupting the usual pattern. There had been no signs or cones or anything warning pedestrians to avoid treading through, and so we’d plodded right over it, our prints amusingly gleaming there in the still-drying pavement to show what we’d done.

We looked back, looked at each other, and then instinctively (and hilariously) put our heads down and kept walking, perhaps a tiny bit faster than before.

As we walked the same path again and again the remainder of the week, we had to laugh each time to see our handiwork still there. Or footwork, I guess you’d say.

“Look... I was here once,” they say. Kind of like these travel reports....

2013 EPT Deauville Main Event, Day 1a
2013 EPT Deauville Main Event, Day 1b
2013 EPT Deauville Main Event, Day 2
2013 EPT Deauville Main Event, Day 3
2013 EPT Deauville Main Event, Day 4
2013 EPT Deauville Main Event, Day 5
2013 EPT Deauville Main Event, Day 6

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